An outrageous fortune of more than $25 million is set to be won in Lotto's Big Wednesday draw tonight as ticket sales near record levels.
After an unprecedented 20 weeks of jackpot drought and millions of unlucky tickets the odds are now firmly pointing to the windfall being won this week.
The luckiest Big Wednesday number is 44, followed by 10, 16, 12 and 22. The number 7 comes up the least. But the chances of a single ticket scooping the whole prize are so slim they confounded a maths academic's computer.
Stefanka Chukova, an associate professor at Victoria University's school of mathematics, statistics and operations research, crunched the numbers for The Dominion Post.
To win the top prize, a player has to match six numbers on their ticket with the six purple balls drawn on television and pick the right side of a computerised coin toss as well.
"Do I believe in this? No. Because of the numbers," Dr Chukova said when given her task.
Sure enough, she reported that the chances of victory were microscopic about one in 16 million for every line of numbers and one in 2.7 million for a lucky dip ticket.
But even if a person won this week, the chances of keeping the whole haul to themselves were tiny, she said. "Even the software on my computer can't handle it. "
Despite knowing the odds Dr Chukova still plans to buy a ticket "$25 million is a lot of money".
NZ Lotteries spokeswoman Karen Jones said this week's draw was extremely likely to be won because sales yesterday were trending above last week's nearly two million.
The record for ticket sales was 2.3 million, sold for last year's $30m Powerball draw, which was split among five winners.
Ms Jones would not say how many tickets had been sold since the last jackpot in January, but it is likely to be more than 10 million.
The Problem Gambling Foundation has criticised lottery jackpots for encouraging an illusion.
But Ms Jones said lotteries were one of the least addictive forms of gambling and most people were aware it was "a very small chance of winning a very large prize".
-Dying in a car crash on New Zealand roads: 1 in 11,000
-Having caught swine flu by yesterday: 1 in 40,000
-Being struck by lightning: 1 in 280,000
-Being elected Prime Minister: 1 in 4,312,532
-Winning a share of Big Wednesday: 1 in 2,715,020
- © Fairfax NZ News